An Open Letter to Steve Ballmer

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011 by Simon Morton

Dear Steve,

How are things..?  It looks to have been a bumpy few months for you but it all seems to be coming together for you now.  Nicely played…  

We wanted to drop you a line to firstly commend you, secondly to point out some “opportunities for improvement” and lastly to suggest something a little “out there”.  Bear with us…we think you’ll like it.

Eyeful - Supporting PowerPointSo firstly, the commendation – PowerPoint 2010 is really very very good.

Here at Eyeful, we’re 100% behind anything that helps people deliver their presentations in a more effective way and PowerPoint ticks a lot of the boxes. 

It’s improved integration with video and Flash, it’s expanded array of SmartArt.  Heck, we even like some of the new transitions you threw in there (although we hope most of them are used sparingly!). 

We also love the fact that PowerPoint 2010 is a big step away from 2007 which, let’s face it, was awful.  Team Eyeful applaud you.

But onto our 2 main gripes…

Firstly the default setting is STILL bullet points!  We’re here on the frontline dealing with blizzards of bullets everyday…all because this is the first screen people come to when opening up PowerPoint! 

Amnesty-StickerYes we know, people should know better but you’re in a unique position to help them think differently.  So think outside the box!

If needs be, we’d even advocate the re-introduction of the old annoying paperclip to nag people into submission and stop them using bullets (and that’s REALLY saying something!).

The second gripe is to embrace the mobile presenter.  Start bringing out some apps to use PowerPoint on non-Windows Smartphones and, dare we say it, the iPad.  You’ll have read our recent letter to “the other Steve” so you know what we think of the presenting software on the iPad.

Why not out Apple – Apple?  Just think how good you’d look on stage in jeans and a turtle neck sweater…

Lastly let’s get a little bit “out there”. 

We think it’s time to re-brand PowerPoint…and the first change should be it’s name. 

PowerPoint 2010 may be a fine bit of software but, my God, does it has an image problem!  In many people’s mind PowerPoint = boring bullet point strewn presentations (the clue is in the phrase “Death by PowerPoint”).  

In all honestly it doesn’t matter what you call it!  How about “Presenter” or “Storyteller”?  Anything to suggest that it’s about improving presenting and not just a medium for boring bullet points.   

Overall PowerPoint 2010 is a great step forward and we want to make sure you know that. But there are a couple of really big opportunities that don’t come along very often – take them and you might just make all the difference…

Yours sincerely (and rather over-enthusiastically),

The Gang at Eyeful

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